Saxifrage & suspicious bulbs

So… this post is going to be about Mysterious Triffids and Suspect Bluebells.

To the side of the house is this strip of garden:

The back of this patch is bare other than some stumps and has been earmarked for mum’s storage shed. But the rest is a wild sort of area with bushes and a big variegated holly tree. Unfortunately it’s also been a dumping ground for people’s beer cans, takeaway trays, footballs, bricks, and other stuff thrown over the fence while the house was empty. I’ve been cleaning up some of the rubbish (in the photo is a drinks can I missed, ugh). Otherwise, though, I kind of like it! When I finally get to working on this, I think I’m going to mostly leave it alone except for adding some more bulbs and shade tolerant wildflowers. It should make a nice woodlandy looking area with those big, established bushes.

Admittedly I’m not certain what all of said bushes¬†are, and they’re undoubtedly not native. But they’ve been there for years at this point and are basically small trees that would be next to impossible to remove. Most importantly they’re always full of house sparrows, which need all the help they can get. The birds like the bushes so they’re staying.

That though brings me to the… things growing at ground level- goodness knows what has been planted, or otherwise arrived by itself, in this area. Unfortunately I’m not in touch with the person who used to do the gardening for my grandmother when she lived here, and when I used to visit I didn’t really pay attention to what the plants were. So everything is basically a surprise at this point.

Firstly I noticed some of these odd little rosettes around the place. There’s a lot of them and they seem hardy to the point of indestructibility.


I’d been trying to identify them for a while; Google was only giving me succulents. Which these aren’t. But after posting a confused question on Instagram someone was kind enough to point me in the right direction: they’re a saxifrage, probably London’s Pride. The area they were growing was covered in dead grass and rubbish, so I cleared that away to see just how big the patch was….

Spoilers: it’s pretty big.

Looking these up, these aren’t native either and a lot of people consider them a weed, but again… I like these tough little evergreen things and the history behind them, as something that would colonise WW2 bomb sites. Plus bees apparently like the flowers, which should look amazing where they’re growing right by the front gate! So they get to stay, I’ll just try and keep this little green carpet from spreading too much further.

There are also a whole lot of spring bulbs of different kinds popping up right now. Again, I have no idea what some of them are- but I know there were bluebells here in the past. And most of the greenery that’s appearing looks like bluebell to me.

…Now, if that’s what these green clumps are, it’s either a very good thing or a very bad thing. I love bluebells… so long as they’re the right kind.

These could be either the native UK bluebells, hyathinthoides non-scripta, invasive Spanish bluebells, or a hybrid of the two. Unfortunately the latter two types are taking over from our native, protected ones. There are apparently still native bluebell fields in the immediate area, so if these are the spanish/hybrid type we’re going to have a problem.¬† The London’s Pride gets a pass but Spanish bluebells will not, meaning I’m going to have a fight on my hands trying to get rid of them…

The highest likelyhood is that they are Spanish/hybrid as those got planted in gardens a lot, apparently. But there’s a chance they could be native ones (or at least mostly native). The leaves look thin to me, like native bluebells are meant to have… but I don’t have the experience to be able to tell, honestly. I need to wait until they flower to know, and until they do I’m keeping my fingers firmly crossed….


To leave off on an unrelated but more positive note, though, there are definitely Things starting to happen in the hedge I planted! Here’s what was the saddest and deadest looking twig of the bunch, which is now growing some buds!